Former Utah Teacher Elected President of National Teacher Association, Rails Against Testing

Jul 7, 2014

A Former Utah Teacher of the Year who was just elected president of the nation’s largest teacher’s union plans to use her authority to fight over testing in public schools.

Lily Eskelsen Garcia’s journey to becoming president of the National Education Association is full of twists and turns. After graduating from Box Elder High School, she became a cafeteria worker at a head start program in Colorado. Eventually she became an assistant to a Kindergarten teacher who suggested she go to college and become a teacher herself. In 1989, Eskelsen Garcia became Utah’s teacher of the year after only nine years on the job. During the next two decades, she focused on advocacy for students and teachers, becoming president of the Utah Education Association, secretary-treasurer and vice-president of the NEA and just this past week, 8,000 NEA delegates voted for her to lead the organization. 

Eskelsen Garcia says she’s ready to refocus the mission of public education. 

“If I do one thing in my time as NEA President, it will be to end the corrupting influence that this testing mania has become.” She adds there is absolutely no evidence, that standardized testing improves educational outcomes.

“The places where kids are really taking off are where you give professionals authority to customize education,” Eskelsen Garcia says. “That’s how you transform education. That’s where the evidence says that we should be going.”

Eskelsen Garcia will officially take office on September first. She will be the nation’s highest ranking Latina labor union head and NEA’s first female president since 1983.